U.N. official: U.S. drone strikes violate Pakistan sovereignty

Pakistan did not give consent to use drones over its territory, rapporteur found


Natasha Lennard
March 15, 2013 8:50PM (UTC)

While some of the U.S.'s shadow wars are carried out with the express or tacit consent of governments where drones strike, such as in Yemen, this is not the case in Pakistan, a U.N. official stated Friday.

Ben Emmerson Q.C., the U.N. special rapporteur monitoring human rights in counterterrorism programs, returned this week from a trip to Pakistan, where he learned that there has been no "tacit consent by Pakistan to the use of drones on its territory." As such the U.S.'s targeted killing program there constitutes a violation of the country's sovereignty.  The Guardian noted that Emmerson's comments are "a direct response to widespread suspicions that some parts of Pakistan's military or intelligence organizations have been providing clandestine authorization to Washington for attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on Taliban or al-Qaida suspects in provinces on the Afghan border."

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Emmerson stated:

As a matter of international law the US drone campaign in Pakistan is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

"Pakistan has also been quite clear that it considers the drone campaign to be counter-productive and to be radicalising a whole new generation, and thereby perpetuating the problem of terrorism in the region."

The rapporteur also commented, as numerous human rights groups have before, that a significant number of Pakistani civilians with no al-Qaida affiliations are killed by U.S. attacks. "Adult males carrying out ordinary daily tasks were frequently the victims of such strikes," Emmerson noted. The lawyer is currently overseeing a U.N. investigation in Geneva looking at incidents of civilian death in U.S. drone strikes.


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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